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					Rhetorical Devices

The Scarlet Letter
Objectives
 To review the terminology of several
  rhetorical devices commonly used in
  writing about or discussing rhetoric.
 To apply these terms to passages in The
  Scarlet Letter.
                         What emotions does the diction convey?
Diction
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American
 eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I
 recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed
 arrows in each claw. With the customary infirmity of temper that
 characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the fierceness of her
 beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten
 mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises
 which she overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she
 looks, many people are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter
 themselves under the wing of the federal eagle; imagining, I presume,
 that her bosom has all the softness and snugness of an eiderdown
 pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her best of moods,
 and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off her
 nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling
 wound from her barbed arrows. (“Custom-House 5)
Denotation and Connotation
   hover                unhappy fowl
   outspread wings      fierceness
   shield               beak and eye
   barbed arrows        truculency
   claw                 threaten
   infirmity            mischief
   temper               warn
Denotation and Connotation
   intruding        beak
   overshadows      rankling
   vixenly          wound
   fling off        barbed arrows
   scratch
   claw
   dab
Denotation and Connotation
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with
 outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of
 intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary
 infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the
 fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to
 threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she
 overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people
 are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the
 federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and
 snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her
 best of moods, and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off
 her nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound
 from her barbed arrows.
Concrete Diction
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with
 outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of
 intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary
 infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the
 fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to
 threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she
 overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people
 are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the
 federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and
 snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her
 best of moods, and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off
 her nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound
 from her barbed arrows.
Cacophonous and
Euphonious Words
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with
 outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of
 intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary
 infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the
 fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to
 threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she
 overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people
 are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the
 federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and
 snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her
 best of moods, and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off
 her nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound
 from her barbed arrows.
Figurative Devices
   imagery—words or phrases that evoke sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and
    smells.
   motif—a recurrent idea, theme, or subject; an incident, situation, or ethical
    dilemma embodying a central idea that informs a work. A motif may include
    imagery.
   metaphor—describes an abstract idea by comparing it to something
    concrete.
   personification—human qualities given to something nonhuman.
   symbol—a person, place, event, or thing that has a meaning of its own, but
    also represents something else.
   metaphor—an extension of a word’s use beyond its primary meaning to
    refer to something else that bears some similarity to the word’s primary
    meaning such as the eye of the hurricane. It describes an abstract idea by
    comparing it to something concrete.
    Imagery—words or phrases that
    evoke sights, sounds, tastes,
    textures, and smells.

 eagle
 predator
 hostility
 threat
    Motif—a recurrent idea, theme, or
    subject; an incident, situation, or
    ethical dilemma embodying a central
    idea that informs a work. A motif may
    include imagery.
   The foreboding threat of authority that
    would abuse the “inoffensive community”
    is a recurrent theme throughout the novel
Symbol—a person, place, event,
or thing that has a meaning of its
own, but also represents something
else.
 eagle
 shield
 thunderbolt
 barbed arrows
Metaphor—describes an abstract
idea by comparing it to something
concrete.

   The barbed arrows are a metaphor for the
    hostile actions perpetrated by the federal
    government that treated Hawthorne so
    harshly.
Personification—human qualities
given to something nonhuman.
   shield before her breast
   thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw
   truculency of her attitude
   threaten mischief
   warn all citizens
   people are seeking…to shelter themselves under the
    wing of the federal eagle
   no great tenderness
   her moods
   rankling wound from her barbed arrows
Other Rhetorical Devices
 Irony
 Antithesis
 Understatement
 Tone
 Syntax
 Style
Irony—the statement or idea on its
face appears true, but, in fact, the
opposite is true.


   people seeking shelter from the federal
    eagle when, in fact, the eagle is the threat
Antithesis—opposite or contrasting
ideas placed side by side in
sentences or clauses for emphasis.
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with
 outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of
 intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary
 infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the
 fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to
 threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she
 overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people
 are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the
 federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and
 snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her
 best of moods, and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off
 her nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound
 from her barbed arrows.
Understatement—minimizing the
qualities of a subject
   “The moment when a man’s head drops off is
    seldom or never, I am inclined to think, precisely
    the most agreeable of his life.” (“The Custom
    House” 41)
   “According to the received code in such matters,
    it would have been nothing short of duty, in a
    politician, to bring every one of those white
    heads under the axe of the guillotine. It was
    plain enough to discern that the old fellows
    dreaded some such discourtesy at my hands.”
Tone—the writer’s attitude toward
his or her subject, characters, or
audience.
 warning
 hostile
 sardonic (scornfully mocking)
 bitter
Syntax—the structure of sentences
   Periodic Sentence—makes sense only when reaching the end of the
    sentence; the most important word of phrase comes last for emphasis.

   “On some such morning, when three or four vessels happen to have
    arrived at once usually from Africa or South America--or to be on the
    verge of their departure thitherward, there is a sound of frequent feet
    passing briskly up and down the granite steps.”
   “But the point that drew all eyes, and, as it were, transfigured the
    wearer,--so that both men and women, who had been familiarly
    acquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impressed as if they
    beheld her for the first time,--was that SCARLET LETTER, so
    fantasically embroidered and illuminated on her bosom.” (Chapter 2,
    par. 10)
Syntax—Period Sentence, cont’d
   “And here, some six months ago--pacing from
    corner to corner, or lounging on the long-legged
    stool, with his elbow on the desk, and his eyes
    wandering up and down the columns of the
    morning newspaper--you might have
    recognised, honoured reader, the same
    individual who welcomed you into his cheery
    little study, where the sunshine glimmered so
    pleasantly through the willow branches on the
    western side of the Old Manse.”
Syntax—Periodic Sentence, cont’d
   “Indeed, so far as its physical aspect is concerned, with
    its flat, unvaried surface, covered chiefly with wooden
    houses, few or none of which pretend to architectural
    beauty—its irregularity, which is neither picturesque nor
    quaint, but only tame--its long and lazy street, lounging
    wearisomely through the whole extent of the peninsula,
    with Gallows Hill and New Guinea at one end, and a
    view of the alms-house at the other—such being the
    features of my native town, it would be quite as
    reasonable to form a sentimental attachment to a
    disarranged checker-board.”
Syntax—the structure of sentences
   Loose or Cumulative Sentence—has its main
    clause at the beginning of the sentence with
    additional grammatical units added after it.
   “Over the entrance hovers an enormous
    specimen of the American eagle, with outspread
    wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I
    recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled
    thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw”
    (5)
Syntax
   Parallel Structure—two or more related ideas
    are given identical grammatical structure.
   “It was my folly, and thy weakness. I,--a man of
    thought,--the bookworm of great libraries,--a
    man already in decay, having given my best
    years to feed the hungry dream of knowledge,--
    what had I to do with youth and beauty like thine
    own.” (Chapter 4, par. 16)
Syntax

   Apostrophe--a figure of speech by which a speaker or
    writer suddenly stops in his or her discourse and turns to
    address pointedly some person or thing.
   “I, the present writer, as their representative,
    hereby take upon myself for their sakes, and
    pray that any curse incurred by them—as I have
    heard, and as the dreary and unprosperous
    condition of the race, for many a long year back,
    would argue to exist—may be now and
    henceforth removed.” (“The Custom House” 10)
Syntax
   Juxtaposition—normally unassociated ideas, words, or
    phrases placed next to each other (juxtaposed), thus
    creating an effect of surprise and wit.
   “Externally, the jollity of aged men has much in common
    with the mirth of children; the intellect, any more than a
    deep sense of humour, has little to do with the matter; it
    is, with both, a gleam that plays upon the surface, and
    imparts a sunny and cheery aspect alike to the green
    branch and grey, mouldering trunk. In one case,
    however, it is real sunshine; in the other, it more
    resembles the phosphorescent glow of decaying wood”
    (15)
Syntax
   Anadiplosis—the repetition of the last word of
    one clause at the beginning of the following
    clause.
   “His son, too, inherited the persecuting spirit,
    and made himself so conspicuous in the
    martyrdom of the witches, that their blood may
    fairly be said to have left a stain upon him. So
    deep a stain, indeed, that his dry old bones, in
    the Charter-street burial-ground, must still retain
    it, if they have not crumbled utterly to dust!”
Syntax
   Asyndeton—the deliberate omission of
    conjunctions in a series of related clauses.
   “He [the old Inspector] possessed no power of
    thought, no depth of feeling, no troublesome
    sensibilities: nothing, in short, but a few
    commonplace instincts, which, aided by the
    cheerful temper which grew inevitably out of his
    physical well-being, did duty very respectably,
    and to general acceptance, in lieu of a heart”
    (17).
Syntax
   Asyndeton, cont’d
   “My conclusion was that he had no soul, no
    heart, no mind; nothing, as I have already said,
    but instincts; and yet, withal, so cunningly had
    the few materials of his character been put
    together that there was no painful perception of
    deficiency, but, on my part, an entire
    contentment with what I found in him” (18).
Syntax—asyndeton cont’d
   “Thus the young and pure would be taught
    to look at her, with the scarlet letter
    flaming on her breast--at her, the child of
    honourable parents--at her, the mother of
    a babe that would hereafter be a woman--
    at her, who had once been innocent--as
    the figure, the body, the reality of sin” (79)
Syntax
 Ellipsis—the deliberate omission of a word
  or words readily implied by the context.
 “Such an exhibition, however, was but to
  be pictured in fancy; not to be anticipated,
  nor desired” (21-22).
Syntax
   Epanalepsis—the repetition at the end of a
    clause of the word, or a form of the word,
    that occurred at the beginning of the
    clause
Syntax
   Polysyndecton—the deliberate use of many conjunctions for
    special emphasis—to highlight quantity or mass of detail, or to
    create a flowing, continuous sentence pattern.

   “In my native town of Salem, at the head of what, half a century ago,
    in the days of old King Derby, was a bustling wharf—but which is
    now burdened with decayed wooden warehouses, and exhibits few
    or no symptoms of commercial life; except, perhaps, a bark or brig,
    half-way down its melancholy length, discharging hides; or, nearer at
    hand, a Nova Scotia schooner, pitching out her cargo of firewood--at
    the head, I say, of this dilapidated wharf, which the tide often
    overflows, and along which, at the base and in the rear of the row of
    buildings, the track of many languid years is seen in a border of
    unthrifty grass--here, with a view from its front windows adown this
    not very enlivening prospect, and thence across the harbour, stands
    a spacious edifice of brick” (4).
Elements of Style
 Diction
 Figurative Devices
 Irony
 Antithesis
 Tone
 Syntax

				
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